10 Indigenous experiences you must have this season in Manitoba

Posted November 10, 2023 | Author Shel Zolkewich

Make a plan to connect with the first peoples of the place we all call home through art, history, discussion, and exploration.

A visit to Manitoba means travelling through Treaty 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Territory and through communities who are signatories to Treaties 6 and 10. It encompasses the original lands of the Anishinaabeg, Anish-Ininiwak, Dakota, Dene, Ininiwak and Nehethowuk and the homeland of the Red River Métis. To learn more about Manitoba's Treaty areas, click here.

Home to the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world, and natural wonders that will move you to the core, Indigenous experiences are abundant in Manitoba. Be inspired! And make this the season you adventure into a greater understanding of our shared histories and unique cultures.

envelop in history, culture, and art

Two people viewing the Visible Vault of Inuit art at Qaumajuq.
Canadian Museum for Human Rights Indigenous Perspectives gallery 360‐degree basket theatre

Manitoba Museum Prairies Gallery
A visit to the Prairies Gallery at the Manitoba Museum will have you leaving with a greater understanding of the prairies, Indigenous cultures, and the stories told in our landscape. With interactive displays and familiar iconic elements such as the tipi and the Red River cart, the Prairies Gallery is a place that helps us understand the defining landscape of Manitoba, and the people, plants, and animals who live here. A layered timeline of history explores connections to the land across thousands of years.

Canadian Museum for Human Rights Indigenous Perspectives Gallery
The Indigenous Perspectives Gallery at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights is a dramatic space that tells the story of First Peoples. The dedicated gallery is complex, sometimes uncomfortable and always beautiful, but it’s not the only place where Indigenous stories are told. Throughout the museum, the history of colonial violations collides with stunning artworks and thought-provoking images to offer a modern and ever-evolving perspective of human rights. Give yourself some time here to do a deep dive into the diverse range of lived experiences by Indigenous Peoples and prepare for unexpected revelations.

It's the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world. And simply a must see. Qaumajuq at the Winnipeg Art Gallery holds 14,000 carvings, drawings, prints and textiles that tell the story of the people of the North. Its unmistakable white stone façade echoes the vastness of the landscape and inside, a three-storey glass vault filled with thousands of Inuit carvings greets visitors. Get a glimpse of what’s inside with the outdoor projections of contemporary Inuit artwork and imagery that dance across the exterior nightly.

Cultural connections at The Forks

The sculpture will make you stop and take note... and what's better than during a brisk walk with a hot beverage in tow. And that’s exactly the purpose of Education is the New Bison at The Forks. The iron bison constructed of books is an installation that rests at the entry to Niizhoziibean. This is a natural area that includes The Gathering Space, a teaching lodge, built by Indigenous craftspeople and based on a tradition of raising temporary shelters for ceremonies. Visitors are also invited to rest a while at The Peace Meeting interpretive site along the Broadway Promenade pedestrian pathway where the shared elements of two cultures are showcased. These new additions build on The Oodena Celebration Circle that has long been a significant and beautiful attraction within The Forks with sculptures, a sundial, interpretive signage, a naked eye observatory and a ceremonial fire pit. Access this experience via walking, skating, or fat-biking.

don't hibernate, celebrate

If you listen closely to the wind in the third week of February you can hear it whisper the Voyageur song (oui, oui, oui!). And if you follow the call into the Winnipeg neighbourhood of St. Boniface, you’ll find Western Canada’s largest winter festival. Festival du Voyageur has been celebrating Francophone Métis culture, and embracing Winnipeg winters, for over 50 years. Smell the outdoor bonfires, listen to the clack of the Red River Jig danced on a wooden stage, taste the sweetness of la tire and marvel at the detailed ice sculptures created by artists from around the world. These iconic parts of the festival continue to draw crowds, but if you think you’ve done it all at Festival du Voyageur, think again.

Where the spirit sits

The Bannock Point Petroforms in Whiteshell Provincial Park echo the shapes of humans and snakes, birds and turtles, all carefully arranged with moss-covered rocks on Canada’s Precambrian shield. Diane Maytwayashing knows them well. The Anishinaabe knowledge keeper takes visitors on guided walks of the sacred site, sharing stories of the teachings and healings that continue to this day through ceremony and song. Visitors learn about the original name of the site—Manidoo-Abi—that loosely translate into ‘where the spirit sits.’ Book your visit at whiteshellpetroforms.com and prepare to be moved.

a chapel, covenant, and community

As the oldest building in Winnipeg at 171 years old, Le Musée de Saint-Boniface invites visitors to stroll the halls of the largest oak structure in North America. Here is where a chapel, covenant, and community came together to pave way for Francophone Métis culture. Learn about the sisters of charity, political activist Louis Riel, and the many on goings of this historical building through programming and self guided tours. Don't forget to stop and check out their gift shop, with an array of stylish souvenirs.

Dog gone fun in Churchill

Whether you’re a dog person or not, you’ll fall in love with Rea, Comet, Raven and the rest of the team at Wapusk Adventures. Dog carting happens in summer, but it's the cold weather of winter that these canines live for. Musher Dave Daley’s love of his dogs, family and land run deep as he shares his adventures of running the Hudson Bay Quest race and caring for his beloved beasts. Visitors hop aboard a traditional sled and whoosh through the wilderness on an exhilarating ride called the Ididamile—a take on the annual famous Iditarod race in Alaska.

Northern sunsets await

Tiffany Spence knows Churchill. As the force behind Beyond Boreal Expeditions, she guides visitors to The Flats, Cape Merry, Miss Piggy, the MV Ithaca and all the other sites that locals know best, in search of quintessential northern winter scenes. The skies dance with otherworldly northern lights and photo buffs might get lucky with a polar bear wandering by in the fall. And then there are the Churchill sunsets—no two the same—casting an ethereal glow over the land.

About The Author

A journalist by trade and an adventurer at heart, my career has included stints as a reporter, magazine writer, editor, food stylist, television cook and digital marketer. I am always collecting stories about Manitoba, whether I’m on assignment or not.